Bullard High School will continue to be represented in all athletic competitions as a Class 4A athletics program, according to 2018-2020 classification assignments released by the Universal Interscholastic League released in early December.
“This is an exciting time for communities and school districts across the state of Texas,” said Scott Callaway, Bullard ISD athletic director and Panther football head coach. “It’s always fun to watch the UIL redraw the district lines because it can either start new rivalries or rekindle the flames of some pretty historic rivalries; the redistricting mixes up the competition, which makes it really exciting.”
According to Callaway, the districts to be announced by the UIL in February will affect every sport Bullard ISD has to offer.
“We know right now that our Bullard football team will be facing some new opponents next year, just based on the numbers,” said Callaway. “It’s a shake up all the way around, whether in football or any other sport here at Bullard ISD. The new districts used to be announced by the UIL on a rotating schedule of every two years, but now, they’re all announced at the same time. It just fuels the excitement and school pride, not only in the halls of Bullard High School, but also in the community. We’re looking forward to the next couple of years.”
For the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, the UIL will place school districts in a total of six conferences ranging from Class 1A, schools with less than 104.9 students, and Class 6A, schools with 2,190 or more students.
Bullard ISD will continue to be recognized as a Class 4A school, consisting of schools with between 505 and 1,149 students at the high school level. In October 2017, Bullard ISD turned in an enrollment count of 773 students attending BHS to the UIL for the conference assignment and district reclassification, placing them in Class 4A.
The UIL’s information stated that Class 4A will be made up of 183 schools competing in the sport of football, compared to the 191 schools participating in the sport of basketball.
With the BHS enrollment number at 773 students, Bullard ISD fell from competing in football’s Class 4A Division 1 (93 schools ranging from 790 to 1,149 students in high school) to Class 4A Division 2 (90 schools ranging from 505 to 789 students in high school), making the Panther football program one of the largest in the division.
During the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years, the Bullard Panther varsity football team competed in the Class 4A Division 1 Region 3 District 5, dubbed “The District of Doom,” along with the Carthage Bulldogs, Center Roughriders, Henderson Lions, Kilgore Bulldogs, Palestine Wildcats, and Tyler Chapel Hill Bulldogs.
According to the information released by the UIL, the Panther varsity football team will move down to compete in Class 4A Division 2 for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 football seasons.
Meanwhile, former district opponents such as Henderson (951), Carthage (794), Chapel Hill (1,055), Palestine (965), and Kilgore (1,119) will remain as Class 4A Division 1 football teams, along with another local team, the Van Vandals (688).
Looking around the Tyler metropolitan area, it is possible for the Panther varsity football team to match up against a number of opponents, including Brownsboro (776), Gilmer (668), Center (739) and Rusk (601).
Other schools around East Texas reporting their student enrollment numbers included Whitehouse (Class 5A Division 2 – 1,379 students), Jacksonville (Class 5A Division 2 – 1,313 students), Frankston (Class 3A Division 2 – 249 students), Lindale (Class 5A Division 2 – 1,154 students), Mineola (Class 3A Division 1 – 464 students), and Troup (Class 3A Division 2 – 324 students).
The Bullard ISD athletic department sports of baseball, basketball, softball, track and field, and volleyball have all competed in Class 4A Region 2 District 15 during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years, facing off against opponents such as the Gilmer Buckeyes, Gladewater Bears, Kilgore Bulldogs, Longview Spring Hill Panthers, and Chapel Hill Bulldogs.
As of now, the district will look different in the district alignments for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, most noticeably due to Gladewater dropping from Class 4A to Class 3A.
“We could very well see changes in our other sports,” said Callaway. “No one knows what will happen; the districts could stay the same, with the exception of Gladewater, or they may be completely different. We will not know until the UIL puts that information out to the public.”
According to Callaway, the district shakeup by the UIL could turn out to be beneficial to the future of Panther and Lady Panther athletics.
“The wild card of district realignment will be which way we go,” said Callaway. “Where we are geographically, Bullard could go one of three different directions: north, south, or west. There are always a lot of rumors circulating in the community and coaches, and it gets really exciting. This could end up being good for our athletics programs, in the terms of changing up the competition and keeping things fresh.”
In regards to UIL’s realignment, Callaway said the secret to the governing body’s decision as to where to draw the lines is unknown.
“When anyone can figure out the UIL and their formula and what they do what they do, they need to sell that secret,” said Callaway. “It’s always fun to see how big the supposed ‘rubber bands’ are that the UIL uses to make the new districts. Although sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, there is a method to the UIL’s madness. The excitement for high school sports is alive and well in East Texas, so I’m hoping for some great East Texas football games over the next two years.”
The UIL is scheduled to release the official list of district alignments in all sports for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1.